You will probably get a
better answer if you turn the question around, by making it "how do I know
if my board is 'not' ready to adopt Policy Governance? It is difficult
to know if the board is ready, but it is not very difficult to know
when they are not ready. Here are some
indicators for when it is not time to adopt Policy Governance.
- The board feels that
the executive has an unacceptable level of performance.
- The executive thinks
that Policy Governance is a way to get the board off his or her back.
- The board has a low
level of commitment to governing, shown in poor board attendance, lack of
preparation, or time expended to social activities to the detriment of
- There is political
infighting within the board.
- Control on the board
is maintained within a small group who is unwilling to share their
Think of these as
limitations for adopting Policy Governance. If these conditions don't
exist, working to adopt Policy Governance is likely to have a positive
effect on a board.
What may be disconcerting
about this list is that these are conditions that Policy Governance should
minimize. The dilemma is that when they already exist, it is
difficult, if not impossible to move to the model, and in some cases the
model simply becomes a tool to maintain the status quo instead of becoming a
new group approach to governance. For example when a small group of
members is in control of the board, Policy Governance may simply allow them
to have an even tighter reign. Although, it is likely that this small
group will be violating a number of Policy Governance principles, it is also
very unlikely that any of the board members will bring it to their
attention. However, this doesn't mean that education about the model
is inappropriate if these previous conditions exist. Knowledge is
helpful at anytime.
The next question may be
what does a board do that finds itself in one of these conditions. The
best thing is to directly address the problem rather than trying to get
Policy Governance or some other technique to address it in a more subtle
way. For example if the executive isn't performing at an acceptable
level, the board and executive should be in some pretty deep discussions
until it is worked out. If the executive feels that the board is on
his or her back, that should be a discussion. Adopting Policy
Governance wont make these things go away. Instead it is likely to
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